E-commerce has made shopping faster and more convenient. Today, approximately 79% of Americans have made an online purchase. However, online shoppers who do not properly secure their personal data have become more susceptible to cyber attacks and identity theft. Below, we provide five tips to ensure the security of personal and financial information online and safe delivery of purchases.
1. Buy from Credible Websites
Understand the potential risks of shopping online, such as identity theft or fraud, to properly safeguard your sensitive information. Shop only on credible websites as cyber attackers often pose as e-retailers to obtain personal and financial data or gain access to devices. Avoid falling victim to a cyber attack with the following precautions:
- Avoid clicking on suspicious emails or links. Cyber attackers may use emails or links to obtain sensitive data, such as credit card information or social security numbers, through vicious malware.
- Read customer reviews. Research unfamiliar online retailers, be wary of particularly negative reviews, and flag suspiciously positive reviews (which may be false or unreliable).
- Understand the e-retailer’s return policy. Be aware of proper return procedures should you be unsatisfied with a product.
2. Connect to a Secured Network
An unsecured network could leave your personal and financial data vulnerable to attack, as it is easily accessible to cyber criminals. Be aware of online shopping risks while on the go, and use the following security tips:
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks. Cyber attackers may easily intercept sensitive data through an unsecured network.
- Connect to a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible. VPNs encrypt your data and protect sensitive information from being stolen.
- Shop on websites that contain “https://”. Look for sites that include “https://” in the address, which indicates that data is encrypted and not accessible to cyber attackers.
3. Secure Payments
Compromising personal payment information could lead to identity theft or fraudulent use. Credit cards are typically the safest payment method for online transactions as opposed to ATM or debit cards, as online shoppers are typically less liable for loss from unauthorized use. Consider taking the following actions to secure online payments and protect financial data:
- Continually check credit card statements for irregularities. Identify and promptly respond to any fraudulent activity. Contact your bank to see if an automatic feature that alerts you of suspicious account activity is offered.
- Never store credit card data on your devices. Re-enter credit card information for each transaction to prevent users with access to your device from taking advantage of stored information.
- Refrain from providing unnecessary information. Avoid supplying retailers with highly sensitive information, such as your social security number or date of birth.
- Utilize “virtual” credit cards. Use the alternate card number provided by the issuer to protect your actual credit card information in the case of a breach.
4. Protect Smart Devices
Shopping on a mobile device adds a layer of convenience for shoppers; however, it can significantly increase security risks. Properly secure your smart device to mitigate the risk of compromising personal information:
- Download and purchase from credible retailers’ mobile applications to ensure secured transactions.
- Install updated security software, such as antivirus or anti-spyware, on your device as it becomes available.
- Protect your phone with a unique and complex password, PIN or pattern.
5. Utilize Video Surveillance Cameras
After making an online purchase, ensure your package arrives safely at your doorstep with surveillance cameras or doorbell cameras. Monitor your front door from any web-enabled device in real-time to:
- Confirm your package arrives on time.
- Ensure delivery workers handle items with care.
- Ward off or identify burglars who may attempt to steal your packages.
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